Biography

Opera and Musical Theater

New York native Kara Cornell is a versatile performer who is known as "a singer who can balance impeccable production and phrasing with enthusiastic and colorful dramatics." (Berkshire Review for the Arts) Her intuitive acting skills and expressive portrayal of roles has hailed her "accomplished and electrifying" (Opera Insider) with roles ranging from a "totally endearing" Cinderella (St. Petersburg Times) to a "seductive, wounded, damaged and dangerous" Carmen (The Troy Record).

Classic operatic roles that Kara has recently performed include CARMEN (Hubbard Hall Opera Theater NY, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Long Island Opera, St. Petersburg Opera FL), "Orfeo" in ORFEO ED EURIDICE (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Mosaic-Arts NY), “Sesto” in GIULIO CESARE (Upstate Chamber Opera NY) and "3rd Lady" in THE MAGIC FLUTE (Opera Saratoga). Contemporary roles performed include "Dinah" in TROUBLE IN TAHITI (Union Avenue Opera MO, Resonance Works | Pittsburgh), "Minskwoman" in John Dove's FLIGHT (Opera Fayetteville), "Eliza Doolittle" in MY FAIR LADY (Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts NY), "Cinderella" in INTO THE WOODS (St. Petersburg Opera), "Beth" in MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (Theater Co. at Hubbard Hall) and "Jo"/"Alma" in LITTLE WOMEN (Center City Opera/Pittsburgh Opera).

Contemporary and American Music

Kara's clear English diction, soulful interpretations, and intuitive rhythmic skills are making her known as a singer who excels in the Contemporary and American music genre. Kara enjoys collaborating with composers and is premiering pieces in American Art Song themed recitals nationally in a tour called "Creative Collaborations". Similarly, she is a frequent artist with The Center for Contemporary Opera in NYC, a professional company with a similar mission.

Kara can be heard on the recording of Nancy Galbraith’s SACRED SONGS AND INTERLUDES. She premiered the role of “Sara” in Kristin Hevner’s electronica opera WEDNESDAY BEFORE LAST with Musaic Concert Series in New York City, and is currently working with composer Evan Mack on some exciting new projects, including his newest operas THE SECRET OF LUCA and ROSCOE. In 2013 Kara portrayed Frank Lloyd Wright's first wife in Daron Hagen's SHINING BROW (which was performed at the famous FALLINGWATER), and recently she sang both the Eastern and Western solos in Karl Jenkin's STABAT MATER, where she was hailed "superb" for her ability to switch vocal styles at the drop of a hat. in 2014 Kara was flown in for a last minute replacement in John Dove's FLIGHT with Opera Fayetteville, where she learned and performed the unfamiliar role of "Minskwoman" in 8 days. 

Jazz and Pop

One of the reasons Kara considers herself a crossover artist is because she not only performs in musicals, but also in the genre of jazz and pop. Kara’s Grandfather was a jazz pianist, and his love of all things jazz has led her to often perform works by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael and Leonard Bernstein with experts in the field, including pianist Lincoln Mayorga. 

Click here to read a short and unexpected tribute to Kara's Grandfather, during an interview she gave for a performance in 2013.

Oratorio and Sacred Music

Kara enjoys performing oratorio and sacred works. She has performed the alto solos in many fully-orchestrated oratorios, including Handel’s MESSIAH, JUDAS MACCABAEUS, SAMSON and UTRECHT TE DEUM, Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH, Honegger’s KING DAVID and Bach’s CHRISTMAS ORATORIO, ST JOHN PASSION, Corigliano's FERN HILL and Karl Jenkin's STABAT MATER. Kara has had the privilege to work most notably with The United States Naval Academy, The Pittsburgh Camerata, Aoede Music Consort, Williamstown Early Music, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, Albany Pro Musica, The Cape Cod Symphony and The Falmouth Chorale. 

Education

A graduate of Smithtown High School (New York), Kara earned a bachelors in fine arts, with college and university honors, from CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY. She earned a masters in music from STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY. 

Awards

Kara has won several vocal awards, including “The Phyllis Bryn-Julson Award” through the Civic Morning Musicals Competition, and the 5 Towns Scholarship Competition Award. During college, Kara was awarded the “Award and Scholarship for Vocal Excellence” three years in a row. In 2009 and 2010, Kara received a “strategic opportunity stipend” through the New York Foundation for the Arts for the purpose of opera role study. In March 2010 Kara was a finalist in the Amato Competition in New York City, and was also awarded the Grand Prize in the Mendelssohn Club of Albany vocal competition. In 2011 Kara competed as a finalist in the American Traditions Competition in Savannah, Georgia. In 2014 Kara competed with collaborative pianist Joshua Tanis as a finalist in New York City with both the Joy in Singing and Arts Song Preservation Society.

Hobbies

If you can believe it, Kara was not particularly interested in singing in public until she was 15 years old. As a painfully shy and sensitive child, Kara spent much of her time alone her with pets and arts-and-crafts. She also felt a strong pull to help others. Though singing has become her biggest passion in life, Kara continues to foster life-long hobbies.

Kara makes homeless packs and encourages others to do the same

Jokingly known as the “cat whisperer” at a NY animal shelter, Kara domesticated over 30 feral cats who were then adopted by loving families, and is also a member and supporter of Alley Cat Allies.

Kara feels strongly about supporting the local blood bank and donates blood every 2-3 months.

As a certified Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master, Kara does healing work on human and animal clients, and also teaches Reiki certification classes. She is also a distributor through Young Living Essential Oils.

In 2010 Kara became a proud “big sister” through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

INTO THE WOODS with St Petersburg Opera (courtesy of Alberta Pizzolato)

CARMEN with Opera at Madison Theatre, NY

ORFEO ED EURIDICE with Mosaic-Arts

Kara enjoying her Grandpa's piano playing

FLIGHT with Opera Fayetteville

LA CENERENTOLA with Union Avenue Opera (courtesy of Ron Lindsey)

LITTLE WOMEN, Pittsburgh Opera (Courtesy of David Bachman)

Kara and her awesome lil sis (courtesy of Pilar Arthur-Snead for "Be a Hero" Campaign)

HANSEL AND GRETEL with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater